Speciesism as a structure

Speciesism as a structure

It’s useless to choose the same pattern, the same structure that makes up structurally the frame and the architecture of an oppressive system. But we see this happen in the environmental movement and we see this in the antispeciesist movements. The structures applied to convey informational exchange and communication of ideas and thoughts about the issues, create the effective outcome and establish the inner contents themselves. If you apply hierarchically drive structures, you repeat humancentric patterns in “that” specific sense of humanhood. People though have a huge inhabitation to omit classical, typical human hierarchical cultural patterns. And they convey and transfer these patterns contentwise onto the fields of their activism.

When the entire plurality of animalhood has a manifold pattern, we don’t assume their practical patterns of social self-organization, instead we discuss them on the level of our hierarchical cultural concepts. Culturally we create clusters of “fame” as markers of social importance, and the weight of the contents created and conveyed is predetermined and shaped thereby. With our collective constructs we practically demolish the reality of other nonhuman-shaped social constructs, by negating their effectiveness and relevance in our communicative, reciprocal terms. That means: we could learn from the specific social forms of (communicative – thus fundamental) self-organization of the individuals, groups, living beings and entities we defend.

The first inhibitor, also driven by our structural approach, is of course the definitions we imprint onto the nonhuman realsm, and the lack of a will to understand and open up toward others with their own social codings as the standard. If we prioritize dominant, nonhuman-derogative human value systems (as specific human value systems) we therewith inferiorize the values, the meaningfulness of other views and positions in this world.

What is a must in animal advocacy and environmental activism, is to let go the hierarchical patterns when we approach systems that exist in the not-human realm. Our own dominant patterns are not nature given and “for all to be swallowed”, our patterns of prioritization as a group of dominant human beings is restrictive and stifling as a structure itself. People who uphold our typical cultural speciesist (…) patters, that suffocate other perspectives, are dominant by exactly aiming at social denying and negating plurality.

Gruppe Messel

Being a lifelong vegan does not guarantee that the person is not speciesist

I met a lifelong vegan who says that killing nonhuman animals would be totally okay in this person’s opinion.

This makes me think that:

  • veganism is too little understood as what iit originally is > a lifestyle about ethical pacifist relations towards nonhuman animality
  • that people are underinformed about ethical implications of a constructive human-nonhuman-animal relation in society as a whole
  • that people are also underinformed about interfaces of socio-ethical and eco-political concerns regarding human-nonhuman relations

It made me feel very upset to hear such an attitude from a lifelong vegan. I wonder why someone in that case even wants to call him- or herself a vegan, when they consciously exclude nonhumans from the frame of their constructive ethical relations and when they practice blatant speciesism.

Veganism unfortunately is still working much at the level of a trend, and I think it is exactly a trend for the reason of a raising moral and ethical awareness and growing sensitivity towards speciesism in society but that nevertheless veganism being a “trend” mostly serves as a buffer, it makes you cleared of guilt and blame, yet a vegan person might still reserve for themselves a speciesist stance in society so as to keep being mainstream. Some vegans hold a conservative position insofar as they want to cater to the omnivore mass society.

I said to that person that I feel offended and that to me saying killing nonhuman animals for consumption is okay would be similar to bigots telling me that racism was okay or sexism, and that I think it’s problematic that when I talk about this perspective of mine, my standpoint would easily be counted as provocative and inappropriate, from that mass-oriented standpoint which makes the human-nonhuman-animal divide, in which it is okay to objectify nonhumans.

The other person compared the scenario of killing nonhumans for food with the unhealthiness of alcohol consumption then, and said that she was often upset when people defend the consumption of alcohol, but that one should be tolerant of other people’s views. I said that I thought this comparison would be inadequate, since talking about killing nonhumans is talking about subjects and absent referents, whereas talking about alcohol consumption is talking about humans consuming an object (alcohol). She said that alcohol consumption would also take lives. At this point I realized that the discussion is mainly about polemics.

This experience makes me frustrated at how fellow vegans can be basically only technically be vegan yet practically be avid speciesists. I tend to think this is a legacy of the vegetarian movement, which emphasized to much on health issues instead of leading a debate about ethics such as the antivivisection movement comparably did ( – talking about the European debates of the late 19th and the early 20th century), also it’s an ongoing inheritance of “human” hierarchism towards nonhumanity.

Ethically being a technical vegan is an interesting position to be in, yet I think it’s out of a sensible line.

When veganism becomes directed at a wellbeing that pushes the wellbeing of others into a secondary or irrelevant position, when foremostly the integrity of individuals similar to ‘oneself’ is considered to be of primary relevance whereas concerns relevant to individuals who are different to the ‘self’ (or the own status) are decidedly ignored, we face a danger of technicality in vegan ethics that can be addressed by a meaningful discussion about the problematics veganism as a practice implicitly and explicitly addresses.

Antispeciesist Animal Sociology

Nonhuman morality relevancy



Altruism is often self-serving. Also caring for one another is like caring for oneself – unless someone is egotistical. The lines drawn in altruism just seem too sharp … Nonhumans morally act more altruistic than we humans do, one seriously has to admit. We believe such factors should be highlighted in the Animal Rights discourse, since making this invisible means making agency and social architectures invisible.
Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy

Aspects in the deconstruction of speciesism

Aspects in the deconstruction of speciesism

This fragment as a PDF

Speciesism > …

  • is not something categorically unintentional, even if automatized in peoples thinking for a large part
  • is embedded in human history (cultures/traditions), it did not come overnight
  • has many forms and problematic facets
  • is interconnected

If we look at the foundations of such a phenomenon of species hierarchy (i.e. speciesism), we can see that their fallacies can be dismantled, and that we ought to try to do that.

What does speciesism base upon? (foundations)

Different key aspect of speciesism lay in our perspectives and epistemologies coming from angles of Religion / Spirituality, Rationality / Science, Philosophy, Culture / Civilization, Individuality / Society. In other words the same factors that influence our outlooks on other humans and ‘nature’/the natural world, are influencing factors of speciesism. The conflicts stemming from systems that underlie our (world-)views are comprehensive, speciesism however is an expression of the fallacies of such systems.

Image: Farangis G. Yegane

Gruppe Messel / Tierautonomie, Animal Autonomy 06.11.2018. Specifics of speciesism.

Female-identified human individuals and species-derogation

Female-identified human individuals and speciesism, species-derogation, -negation -annihilation or the overlooked problem of “women” and anthropocentric-collectivist speciesism

Palang LY

This text as a PDF

A.) I set forth following anchor points, before I start on the topic:

  • We can ask if the interpretations of the characteristics, that are considered to make up the marking dividers within a human-animal hierarchy, are in reality a negation of the autonomous value of otherness in nonhuman animals.
  • We know that the single criterion [against which we measure anything nonhuman animals do] that serves as our standard, is the human parameter, i.e. the human model counts as the ideal, as the standard, for creating norms. So what happens if we put this standard of measurement into doubt?
  • Biology has already determined what the identity of nonhuman animals is, and even the Animal Rights movement has satisfied itself with placing the moral question somewhere out of reach by accepting the explanation of the identity of animals as something strictly biological.

(Full text: http://www.simorgh.de/objects/what-is-an-animal/)

Source: unknown.

The image is severely speciesist. It’s not fathomable why some feminists make that comparison between the “treatment” or I guess rather the objectification of women in advertisement etc. with “meat”? There is obviously an perverted aesthetical connection thought by speciesist rhetorics, but it leads us into a direction which should be further looked at and not just taken by the superficial “meaning” of such iconography.

“Meat” is a solely speciesist problem, unless we would speak of necrophilia and cannibalism.

B.) Feminism and Animal Rights: the one way or the other

“Meat” is not porn and it’s not sexist per se, it is porn insofar and forms of zoophilia are involved, direct or indirect, and sexist where sexism is directly applied to the nonhuman animal individuals or groups themselves. Speaking of porn and sexism here as a proxy covers up how those affect nonhumans directly.

“Meat” is flesh, and it’s the result of a human/humans killing a nonhuman animal/animals.

We should be careful with attaching own sociological issues to such a major own concerns such as Animal Rights in an analogy, which sets itself so close to the subject of comparison, that the story lapses and gets one-sided and a new and important perspective gets neglected instantaneously.

All Animal Rights issues need an own valid terminology and frames of reference, otherwise we are risking to blur the lines of differentiation.

The analogy of sexism and speciesism fails when applied superficially and in an undifferentiated way also because…:

Two main points why Animal Rights issues can’t be tied to a strict feminist viewpoint, as long as feminism is used as excusing women from the ethical responsibilities in society towards their nonhuman environment.

  • It’s wrong to presuppose that speciesism is something that is more prevalent in male-identified human individuals compared to female-identified human individuals.
  • Also, male nonhuman animals are inasmuch sexually abused, e.g. in the farm industry (their reproductive system) such as female nonhuman animals are.

The sociological dynamics of gender in their effect of speciesist attitudes and actions should be addressed of course, but there is no reason inherent to “biological” gender (if we would go that path) that would prove that “men” or categorically more speciesist than “women”. Also the way in which roleplay is happening in systems of oppression should be addressed, i.e. “women” taking the role of cooks, or preparing the speciesist meals, of wearing feathers and fur, etc. male roles, roles that are swapped, (I am not extending on this here).

C.) Close analogies … also of genocides and speciecides and their deficits

These types of close analogies in the field of -isms and abuse work in a valid way when we look at the psychology of the perpetrator who seeks to create a victim: the aspect of exerted violence shares many similarities, whereas however on the side of the victimized we have to see the contexts: political, enviro-political, historical, sociological, … a group or an individual gets picked as a victim for reasons, and those exact reasons need to be analyzed under own terms, and not be conflated. In terms of speciesism, we face many forms of speciesism (i.e. religious, scientific, legal, philosophical, etc.).

D.) Feminism, Speciesism, Anthropocentrism

Random examples of female rhetorics of speciesism:

Is a self-critical view on gender / being a woman / feminism necessary?

What would speak against it? We know that in our daily lives we, as “women”, make decisions that touch on core grounds that turn the private/the personal into the political (https://userpages.umbc.edu/~korenman/wmst/pisp.html). As antispeciesists we know with our vegan praxis just how impactful our personal choices are, and as social beings we also know how hard it can be for us to draw a line between the social expectations that one tries to fit in (in order to find a job, to be liked or accepted, to keep ones social ties or family structures/felt obligations together, and so forth) and our political ideals and ethical, pressing necessities when both might stand in conflict with each other in times of societal change. Our human social environment might be heavily speciesist and we have to get along with it, somehow yet still inspire change, for instance.

Speciesism, as remote as it seems, is to be found at the same point where my-choice-to-decide-otherwise-or-not crosses just any implications of socialization that I feel are ethically unjustifiable. When I rant against sexism I might as well rant against an injustice that targets nonhumans, if I am a vegan anti-speciesist minded person.

Speciesism can be understood to work socially as an ideology, where people who are convinced of their degrading stance, believe in a collectively held fiction that is assumed and agreed upon as “objectivity”, so that no rebuttal can take place on “rational grounds”.

Women do feel at home in this construct inasmuch as men do, on the large scale. Both 50 percent of humanity, male and female, believe so much in human superiority that they are willing to constitute part of a speciesist society by fulfilling their individual part in the fiction.

“Gender” defines itself from interaction within a group or society. Being oppressed as a woman doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t be oppressive towards nonhuman animals. Drawing an analogy between sexism (or genderism) and speciesism does not take account of the different reasons and histories why the victim gets oppressed in the first place – for what ends, and how exactly. If we turn a blind eye on the gender specific functions of speciesism and anthropocentrism we might risk a loophole in our argumentation for our own rights defending nonhumans and for integral Animal Rights themselves.

Speciesism is a unique tragedy. The history of being classified as “animals” by humans, with all that entailed, as beings whose existence had been on earth eons before humans evolved, can’t be compared to any other form of oppression by a strict analogy. Being objectified as solely “animate”, being slaughterable, edible, huntable, vivisectable, being objectifiable and judged as “definable”, in the first place constitutes a specific situation for the affected subject, and hints at a unique technique of injustice taking place here on behalf of the oppressive side that is being applied to this particular victimized group.

Comparisons between different forms of oppression are extensively helpless efforts when oppressor and oppressed are as entangled as in the case of speciesist human oppressive settings.

We could straightforwardly name that natural sciences, religion, philosophy, mass society have to end classifying the beings we call “nonhuman animals”, or we stay stuck in our psychological accompliceship with the very hierarchical and oppressive systems that we criticize so vehemently as what regards our own pains.

I don’t see an alternative as of yet. The ecofeminist and feminist discourse in Animal Rights and Animal Liberation (Karen Davis, Marti Kheel, Lori Gruen, Carol J. Adams, Kim Socha, Vasile Stanescu and so forth) is pluralistic enough to lead and continue their differentiated discourse I believe and I thank them for doing so.

Farangis G. Yegane. Panting: Torsi, Drawing: Werkzyklus Krone der Schöpfung, http://crownofthecreation.farangis.de/

All links accessed 28.10.2018.

Conscious fallacies, biological causalism


Fellow activists:

For once stop reproducing species-derogative rhetorics by talking about “instincts/instinctual behavior” when speaking about nonhuman animal friends that you seek to defend from reductive approaches towards them. Start developing an emancipated language, an antispeciesist one, in the sense of acknowledging the uniqueness of the individuals you want to talk about.
It’s central to make connections between the categorical trinaries and specific constructs of “animality”, the ‘natural’ word/’nature, and “humanity”, and how those ”further” and reach into sociology, into notions and ideas of liberty, into political environmentalism as a main binding core, … add your own knowledge and insights.
It’s fully insufficient and seems a conscious fallacy to refer to one (problematic) category, that reduces the entity of a nonhuman individual being to the inquisitional restrictions of biological causalism.

Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy


Every human relates to nonhuman animals, yet …

Every human relates to nonhuman animals, only the most people do it in speciesist ways; they see nonhumans as a means to an end. A specific of speciesism is that as a nonhuman you may be seen as “regular” food. I.e. eating you doesn’t count as a form of cannibalism. The mental divide that human societies draw here is that you may be a generally physically usable source to the degrees where you may be “destroyed” under the utmost imaginable forms of torture and pain.

Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy

The animal oppression and veganism discrepancy (fragment)

antispeciesism_1a

antispeciesism_1e

The animal oppression and veganism discrepancy (fragment):

If you look at the way in which meat is marketed and if you see the type of demand for meat [1], you clearly see the roles types of speciesism [2, 3] play.

People who reject veganism act that way due to their speciesist convictions. Meat, dairy, eggs … are manifestations of speciesism, and thus primarily issues of antispeciesism.

Health and lifestyle might be a driver for some people to become vegan. But the injustice towards nonhuman animals (including their intricate relation to the natural environment), which takes place on all levels of societies globally, won’t change because of the person-centered health- and lifestyle reasons of some people.

There is hardly any other system of structural injustice where as little public outcry is expected as in speciesism: health- and lifestyle-vegans mention the animal rights issue in general on a rather superficial level and usually avoid to speak of systemic animal oppression in a way in which they might speak about forms of oppression that affect human beings as victims.

[1] “Being food” is a specific of speciesism. The demand for “meat” implies an entire speciesist traditional background. To assume though that “meat”-consumption is a natural evolutionary rationale, is to imply a biologist view on human cultures by assuming their predatorship would align with that of (what we’d call) ‘nonhuman predatory cultures’. Also, there may well always been groups of humans, human individuals and human civilizations who have avoided animal oppression. Even if this type of consciousness would only exist without any historical precedence it would still be equally valid.

[2] We assume that there are > many forms of speciesism.

[3] See > forms of animal degradation and animal hatred.

Links:

Fragments that we wrote about specifics of speciesism so far:

Political and sociological concepts should replace biologist views of animality

antispe_pamphlets_01102018

How much “animal-machine” (Descartes) is entailed in instinct-based ethological approaches; after all if you differentiate further you come to see that ethology should be rather sociology. Again political and sociological concepts should replace biologist views of animality … .

Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy

No one wants to take responsibility for their speciesism

responsibility_for_speciesism

No one wants to take responsibility for their speciesism
not the religions, the religious
not the philosophies, the philosophers
not the natural sciences, the natural scientists …
when you when you ask them.
Respecting nonhuman autonomy, respecting nonhuman groups, individuals, cultures, ecologies … seems to be a matter of wilful and an out-of-nowhere-happening sort of empathical enlightenment? The distinct reasons for nonhuman oppression being rooted in our cultures and societies, in our histories thus, are simply being kept unadmitted, undisclosed.

Gruppe Messel, Tierautonomie / Animal Autonomy, specifics of speciesism: no one takes responsibilities